Stiffer control measures are to be introduced by the Ministry of Agriculture in its anti-brucellosis campaign.
The new measures deal principally with a tightening of the regulations on imports from the Republic, the segregation of stock in a multiple holding and the duties of a herd owner if one of his animals aborts. They will come into operation on January 1.
The Ministry has decided not to revise the present rates of compensation and this has brought sharp criticism from the Ulster Farmers’ Union.
Details of the new control measures were given by Ministry senior veterinary and administration officials – Mr E Conn, chief veterinary officer; Mr H S Oliver, assistant secretary; Mr N J Gadd, principal officer; and Mr T E Christie, senior veterinary officer with special responsibilities for brucellosis eradication – at a Press conference in Dundonald House last week.
Stating that the battle against brucellosis was now entering the last stage, Mr Oliver said it was more important than ever that everyone should co-operate fully in the tightening up of precautions to protect the work already done.
“The eradication programme has gone well,” said Mr Oliver, “but clearly the help of all is needed in the final drive.
“There is concern in places over breakdowns but the whole eradication scheme has been carried along in stages to its very satisfactory position today.”
Mr Oliver added: “Clearly it was not possible to introduce all the controls at the beginning but the position has been kept constantly under review and there has been much consultation with the Ulster Farmers’ Union.”
The brucellosis programme had started in 1963 and this year for the first time the Ministry had got into every herd in the country and tested all animals at least once.
The Ministry now knew exactly how many infected herds there were, where they were located and the extent of the infection and had taken steps to control movements out of these herds.
A total of £3l million – £1,400,000 on compensation, including losses by the Government on resales, and £1,600,000 on overall administrative costs – has been invested to date by the Ministry in the fight to wipe out the disease.
At November 30, there were 41,064 certified brucellosis free herds – 15,424 milk herds and 25,640 breeding herds. At the same date there were 1,505 herds in course of eradication – 404 milk herds and 1,101 breeding herds.
The Ministry regard two points now as of paramount importance.
“Firstly the Ministry must get on as quickly as possible with the job of clearing the last remnants of infection and this the Ministry intends to do vigorously.
“Already herds with serious infection are being bought out completely at a much earlier stage than previously with the object of cutting down the length of time in which an infected herd can be a possible source of the spread of disease to other herds.
“Secondly farmers and the Ministry must now do everything in their power to prevent the reintroduction of disease into previously clear herds. The new controls will help in this direction but nothing takes the place of the care which every herd owner must exercise at all times.
“He must get permits for the movement of animals in every case in which a permit is needed and he must comply strictly with the precautions which are detailed on the permit.”